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Norway’s most important source of revenue, also in future

May 23, 2019
By The Explorer

Seventy per cent of Norway’s revenues come from the ocean.

The size of Norway’s ocean area is six times the size of its land area. More than 200 000 jobs are directly connected to the ocean, both in traditional industries such as fisheries, aquaculture and shipping and in other industries such as oil and gas, clean energy and deep sea mining. Together these industries generate over USD 57 billion annually.

Here is an overview of some of the most exciting developments within fisheries and aquaculture, petroleum and energy, and shipping.

Stingray sea lice solution.

Hofseth Aqua

Fisheries and aquaculture

Norway is the world’s second largest exporter of seafood, after China. In 2017 Norway exported 2.6 million metric tons of seafood to 140 countries for a total of som USD 10.8 billion – up some USD 342 million from 2016.

Seafood exports have continued to climb in 2018. This is due in part to increasing demand in the EU, the US and Asia for other types of fish than Atlantic salmon. August 2018 saw a record in monthly exports, with 178 000 metric tons of seafood sold to the tune of over USD 900 million.

Did you know that the world’s first fishing boat with an electric motor is in operation in Norway? Read more here

Selfa Arctic hybrid fishing boat.


Norway is known throughout the world for responsible and sustainable management of ocean resources. The country’s extensive expertise in this area is increasingly sought-after internationally and thus has potential for value creation in its own right.

Norway is home to many knowledge environments as well as regional and national industrial clusters. These are hotbeds of innovation which can help to shape the aquaculture industry of tomorrow, among other things through research on cultivating new marine bioresources, such as seaweed and microalgae.

Close collaboration between Norwegian trade and industry, organisations, the public administration and the research community creates fertile ground for innovation and value creation. The report “Value created from productive oceans in 2050” commissioned by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters and the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences estimates that value creation in the marine sector – including traditional and emerging industries – will increase sixfold to around USD 63 billion in 2050.

Did you know that 70 per cent of Norwegian seafood exports go to the EU? Read more here

Norwegian seafood continues to grow in popularity worldwide.

Norwegian Seafood Council

Petroleum, energy and the ocean floor

Norway is among the top 20 largest oil producers in the world, and one of the non-OPEC countries that produces the most oil per capita. Norway is also a major producer of natural gas, with Norwegian exports covering roughly one-fourth of the EU’s natural gas consumption.

The next couple of decades will, however, see major changes in the global energy supply. According to the report “Energy Transition Outlook 2018”, the demand for oil will reach its peak in 2023, and natural gas will take over as the largest energy source by 2026. By 2050, 50 per cent of the energy mix will be renewables, including bioenergy, solar power, hydropower and wind power.

When it comes to renewables, Norway is the world’s seventh largest hydropower nation. And although solar power is the world’s fastest growing source of renewable energy, it, too, can be moved out to sea. Half the global population lives in coastal areas. Ocean Sun’s patented floating solar solution can generate clean energy close to where it will be consumed.

Ocean Sun's patented floating solar solution.

Offshore wind power is also a growing industry in Norway, with companies drawing heavily on expertise and technology from the offshore oil and gas industry. Equinor has built Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating offshore wind farm. And although Norway does not have a national strategy for offshore wind, Equinor and its partners in the Gullfaks and Snorre fields have announced plans to explore building a floating offshore wind farm on the Norwegian continental shelf. If realised, the wind farm will cut the fields’ carbon emissions by an estimated 200 000 metric tons a year – equivalent to the emissions from 100 000 cars.

Hywind Scotland/Equinor.

Jan Arne Wold/Woldcom

Did you know that Norwegian technology developed for the petroleum sector is now used for waste treatment? Read more here

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has been assigned the task of mapping mineral deposits on the seabed of the Norwegian continental shelf. This may lead to deep sea mining of manganese, metal sulfides and lithium – which are essential for production of smartphones, wind turbines and batteries for electric cars and electronics. Here, too, Norway’s offshore oil and gas expertise and technology will give the country unique advantages.

Shipping and maritime transport

Shipping will continue to be critical for Norway as an ocean nation. The motorways of the sea are a sustainable alternative for both short and long-distance cargo transport.

Norway is a global leader in green innovation for shipping. Developments have been driven in good part by clear guidelines from the government administration and stringent requirements in public procurement for coastal ferries, among other things.

The Green Shipping Programme is the result of a public-private partnership and an effective instrument for implementing the Government’s national maritime and port strategies. The programme aims to establish the world’s most efficient and environment-friendly fleet, with vessels run fully or partially on batteries, LNG or other environmentally sound fuels.

Norway has already signed agreements for 30–40 battery-powered ferries, with additional investments of roughly USD 228 million in battery and charging technology.

Did you know that the world’s first electric ferry is sailing on a Norwegian fjord? Read more about Ampere here

One of the most exciting projects under the Green Shipping Programme is Yara Birkeland, which will be the world’s first autonomous and fully electric container ship. The ship will become autonomous in stages, and will enter into commercial operation in 2020 – cutting operating costs by up to 90 per cent.

Innovation in green shipping is taking place throughout Norway and new projects are being launched regularly. Follow developments on The Explorer

Yara Birkeland autonomous emission-free container ship.

International leadership role

Norway has taken on an international leadership role in maintaining the well-being of the ocean while sustainably using ocean resources. Prime Minister Erna Solberg is co-chair of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. Norway is also one of the main participant countries in developing the UN Global Compact Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business.